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Antea Group plans long-distance drone flight covering 470 miles

Antea Group plans long-distance drone flight covering 470 miles

The Dutch engineering and consultancy firm Antea Group has conceived a plan for a long-distance drone flight of 470 miles from the Frisian Oranjewoud town to the Danish city of Copenhagen next year. The aim is to show the possibilities for collecting data at great distances. For practical reasons, the flight will be carried out in stages.

Antea Group plans a long-distance drone flight covering 470 miles

Antea Group has been involved in drones for some time to collect information for inspections. Due to the approaching 70th anniversary of the company, the idea arose to organize a drone flight over a very long distance. It would then have to start in the place of incorporation, Oranjewoud. Copenhagen was quickly chosen as the destination, as the most sustainable city in Europe.

Such a long international drone flight has never been realized before. Roel Brandt is also aware of this, who works with about 10 colleagues from Antea Group on the realization of the plan.

“This has never been done before. But we now have European regulations for drones. With this project, we want to look at what that means in practice. Anyway, we want to run the flight. We are now looking very pragmatically at what steps we need to take to achieve this. It’s an iterative process. In the first period, we mainly heard ‘can’t, can’t, can’t’. Yet together we always go one step further.”

Long-distance drone flight in stages

In any case, the drone flight will not be carried out in one go, but in stages. Brandt: Our aim is to fly an electrically powered fixed-wing drone. It will have to be fitted with a new battery every so often. But we do want to carry out the individual stages consecutively. So immediately after each landing. At various points along the route, we also want to use other drones, underwater drones, and our robot dog Spot to show all the possibilities for collecting data in new ways to provide insights into our physical living environment.”

It has not yet been determined with which model and brand of drone the record flight will be carried out. Antea Group is in talks with several suppliers. Discussions are also underway with the various authorities that will be involved in the flight, including the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate and the German and Danish aviation authorities.

The route

The plan is to cover the distance between Oranjewoud and Copenhagen in as straight a line as possible. The drone first flies over the Northern Netherlands, then over German territory, and then over Denmark. There will be flown around controlled airspace. It is not yet known whether the route will be blocked for other air traffic at the time of the flight operation. It is also not yet clear at this stage which communication technology will be used to maintain contact between the ground station and the drone. That partly depends on the selected solution.

“With this flight, we are pushing the boundaries of what the Specific category makes possible. Maybe it will be a flight in the Certified category. It will depend on the risk analysis that we prepare as the basis for the flight plan. No really comparable flights have been performed yet. There are a few examples of cross-border drone flights, but those involved much shorter distances,” says Brandt.

Antea Group plans long-distance drone flight covering 470 miles

Sustainability and living environment

With the flight, Antea Group wants to show the possibilities of using drones to solve sustainability issues and map the living environment. Brandt: “Think of mapping out the options for installing solar panels on roofs. With one long drone flight you would be able to see exactly which roofs already have panels and which roofs may be suitable to be filled with panels. And that immediately for a large area.”

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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